PTCGO League was launched on reddit in late December 2019 (almost exactly one year ago) with the goal of creating custom tournaments played on the Pokemon TCG Online application.
My vision for the league was simple: I wanted a create a fun & friendly place to play and also put my own creative spin on the game that we all love!
We held our first tournament in mid-January 2020 - it was a farewell event to celebrate the end of the TCG's Sun & Moon series. There were 26 players, myself included. As you'll see below, since then the league has expanded beyond anything I could've expected.
Below I've tried to highlight the best of PTCGO League's first year. Thank you all for being a part of it, and I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane. :)
Standard Launch Events
Upon the arrival of each of the Sword & Shield era sets, we held a Standard format tournament shortly after release. There is always a lot of excitement around each new set, and players enjoy channeling that enthusiasm into an event where they can put their new cards to good use.
As with all of our events, the Launch Events have always been completely free and open to all. The prize pool was typically 200 packs of the new set, making these some of our largest payouts!
Sword & Shield: king_jellybean
Rebel Clash: panzerolas
Darkness Ablaze: HeyIJustLurkHere
Vivid Voltage: McSun213
We make our own rules! Our unique modified deck formats are the primary differentiator between PTCGO League and the other organizations that host events.
Overall, feedback has been very positive on the custom events. Inevitably some end up working better than others, but they always prove to be a fresh challenge and many players consider them a nice change of pace from the official formats.
Below you'll find a few of the most notable custom tournaments that were hosted in 2020.
From an organizer's perspective, the Professor's Challenge was one of the most rewarding custom formats to see come to fruition. It was conceived around the premise of a trainer getting his/her first starter Pokemon from the Professor. A lot of time was put into the brainstorming and testing process; work continued until the format seemed to be in a healthy state of balanced play. Of course, you never quite know what will happen when dozens of players then bring their own ideas!
Some additional custom formats that I considered successful:
- Deck Builder's Series: Perhaps the most challenging event series the league hosted this year. With 12 Rounds of play, it was certainly the longest! The deck rules changed every 3 rounds, so participants had to craft a total of four different decks within very restrictive parameters.
- Ten Set Scramble: 10 TCG sets are randomly chosen, and players must build their decks using only cards from those sets. This has become a recurring event; choosing a different group of 10 sets ensures a brand new experience every time.
- Single-Type Showdown: One of several tournaments that focused on decks containing just one type of Pokemon. Players who wanted the full experience had the option to build 9 different decks (one for each type of Basic Energy) and compete in best-of-9 matches.
- Player's Banlist Event: In this tournament, participants were asked to identify a card name they wished to remove from gameplay. As the event progressed, more and more of the proposed cards were added to the banlist - and decks had to be adjusted accordingly!
Early on, the league was handed a good bit of fortune -- OU7C4ST allowed my tournaments to be promoted on /r/ptcgo, reddit's largest community of Pokemon TCG online players. That exposure allowed the league's events to attract a larger audience, many of whom have become regular participants. /r/ptcgoleague is now the official tournament subreddit of /r/ptcgo, and we both care about maintaining a diverse slate of tourneys so that there is something for everyone.
The league also partnered with a sponsor: Card Cavern Trading Cards. I'm proud to be associated with Card Cavern - it's a quality operation run by someone reliable and trustworthy. Those are values that I'd like PTCGO League to be known for as well.
Throughout the year, I've continued to branch out. I'm working on the league's presence on Esports sites like Battlefy and social media platforms such as Twitter. I'm also working on building up a Twitch channel for streaming exhibition matches and player recordings of flagship tournaments. Moving forward, I hope to fully utilize these platforms to attract new talent to the league. My feeling is that it's not necessary to grow the league for its own sake, but with growth comes potential - the larger and stronger the field of competitors, the more interesting these tournaments become.
Another very important move early on was adding a Discord Server. This is an example of how listening to what the players want can often guide you in the right direction. Discord has allowed our members to interact via testing for events, getting deck advice, exchanging cards, and having wide-ranging conversations about the game. It has been a key factor in improving the sense of community within our league.
Once the Discord server was up and running, it was decided that some events should be organized around the strengths of that platform. Discord Brawls were accelerated single-elimination events that were designed to be completed in a short period of time. They were a series of fun little side-events that became a good testing ground for some very unique deck formats and rule sets.
Our league hosted a variety of special events this year. A personal favorite was the Team of Six event. Each player had to build their own deck around a single National Pokedex entry, but they were also part of a larger team that had to share Supporter cards. The event was very competitive and the outcome was about as close as it gets. The winning team advanced to play rabidragon's own team of six in a series of exhibition matches that were recorded -- you can view the complete series on the league's YouTube channel.
Below you'll find samples of additional special events that were held this year. These include a variety of Build & Battle formats where players were provided free packs & prerelease kits, the contents of which were used to construct their decks. Some events also utilized pre-constructed Theme & Battle Decks - the Vivid Voltage Theme Battle was particularly notable as PTCGO League's first large-scale live event that was completed in a single day.
PTCGO League's activity in 2020 was separated into three "seasons" of play. Each season culminated in a final event, the Champion Challenge, which was invitation-only for the top performers in that season's previous events. Gameplay in these events was also unique, because each game within the best-of-3 match was played under different deck rules (inspired by prior tournaments).
Champion Challenge (March)
2. Single-Type Expanded
3. Modified Theme
Champion Challenge II (August)
1. A-Z Singleton
2. Binary Theme
3. Professor's Challenge
Champion Challenge: Best of 2020 (December)
1. Sword & Shield
2. No Budget Singleton
3. First Generation
Looking ahead to 2021
Going forward, here's what I envision for the league:
- We have nearly 1,000 subscribers on /r/ptcgoleague and 300 members on Discord. Let's see if we can at least double those numbers in the next year!
- I'd like to try hosting more events in the sanctioned PTCGO formats for competitive players.
- I'd also like to create more budget-friendly custom events that are accessible to new players.
- In 2021 we will utilize a points-based yearly leaderboard system to determine a league champion.
- On average, expect there to be 4 Tournaments per month (2 Reddit; 2 Discord). I'll still throw in the occasional surprise of course!
- With the help of our sponsor, I'm able to offer more lucrative prizes to the top players, while also ensuring that a larger portion of the field gets consolation packs for participating.
- A monthly custom card creation contest is in the works!
Fun & friendly competition is a phrase I've used throughout the year, and it's still the best encapsulation of what I'm aiming for with PTCGO League. There are players here who I now consider to be friends. Some of you have been essential in helping me test new formats; others have suggested ideas that later grew into successful events. I've been offered a lot of great advice and help with various technical aspects of the league. I've seen our long-time players generously loan out or even donate cards to newer players in need. There is room for everyone here. Most importantly, the vast majority of players abide by the spirit of the game and conduct themselves with integrity in competition - this makes the job of an organizer much easier. I really cannot thank you all enough!
Have a safe and happy Holiday season, and I hope you'll join us in 2021!
Have a safe and happy Holiday season, and I hope you'll join us in 2021!